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Matt Nelson, founder of Grow Madison

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Matt Nelson, freelance WordPress and SEO consultant, founder of Grow Madison.

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1. What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

I’ve been self-employed my entire adult life and have been a full-time freelance WordPress website designer and Search Engine Optimization consultant for the last seven years. It’s fair to say that I truly love the work, and it’s fair to say it has its challenges and rewards.

Since starting Grow Madison I’ve had the chance to teach technology to hundreds of folks from a huge range of backgrounds and industries, and I’m crystal clear that teaching and empowering others is the most rewarding thing I do. The most rewarding part of branding and website work is that I get to design something beautiful that gets used every day, by tons of people, and that’s such an awesome concept. I also admit that I live for the positive feedback that comes with a job well done — nothing beats having a client gush over the final product.

For any freelancer most challenges revolve around finding work, doing the work, and getting paid. Most of the work comes to me these days, so finding new projects isn’t much of a problem. On the other hand, finding nice long blocks of time to do design work can be challenging between Grow Madison events, running a monthly Freelancer Meetup, and working on “a few” other startup projects.

I’m lucky enough to pick and choose what projects I take on, so I tend to have really interesting clients that are up to big things and are at the top of their field. I truly love working with highly talented people.

2. Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

Greg St. Fort, executive director at 100state. I’ve had the privilege of working closely with Greg for the last couple years as he started managing events and eventually took over as executive director at 100state. He’s one of the sharpest and hardest working people I’ve had the privilege of working with. His energy is infectious and he’s done a phenomenal job growing the community at 100state into a more diverse and invited space for everyone in Madison.

3. What has been the high point of your career so far?

I’m usually looking forward to the next great project, which I generally anticipate will be the next “high point.” It’s not that I think the grass is greener on the other side; I just like to live in the present and prepare to knock the next big thing out of the park. With that being said, I have three really amazing projects that will all be coming together this year; two are startups, and the other could have a huge impact on the nonprofit and volunteer communities.

4. Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Invest heavily in Apple and Microsoft. And don’t miss that Prince show at Paisley Park.


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